When I have asked an audience this question they have looked at me incredulously and said, “Starting time?
” They realize that you cannot know how long the swimmer took unless you knew the time on the wristwatch when the race started.
The impact of the radiocarbon dating technique on modern man has made it one of the most significant discoveries of the 20th century.
No other scientific method has managed to revolutionize man’s understanding not only of his present but also of events that already happened thousands of years ago.
ANSWER: Relative dating is used to determine the relative ages of geologic strata, artifacts, historical events, etc.
He is credited to be the first scientist to suggest that the unstable carbon isotope called radiocarbon or carbon 14 might exist in living matter. Libby and his team of scientists were able to publish a paper summarizing the first detection of radiocarbon in an organic sample. Libby who first measured radiocarbon’s rate of decay and established 5568 years ± 30 years as the half-life. Libby was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in recognition of his efforts to develop radiocarbon dating.
Many people assume that the dates scientists quote of millions of years are as reliable as our knowledge of the structure of the atom or nuclear power.
And radioactive dating is so shrouded with mystery that many don’t even try to understand how the method works; they just believe it must be right.
Plants and animals assimilate carbon 14 from carbon dioxide throughout their lifetimes.
When they die, they stop exchanging carbon with the biosphere and their carbon 14 content then starts to decrease at a rate determined by the law of radioactive decay.